Sweet Apple’s John Petkovic Remembers: Original Penguin

Sweet Apple is more than just a question of Cobra Verde’s John Petkovic and Tim Parnin having some teenage kicks with Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis and Witch’s Dave Sweetapple. It’s the answer to the heartache, grief and depression that led Petkovic to drive from Cleveland to Vermont, where he rediscovered the healing powers of rock ‘n’ roll with some help from his friends. Love & Desperation (Tee Pee) isn’t a fountain of youth, but it’ll do in a pinch: a combination of stomping ’70s arena-rock riffs, Petkovic’s well-honed T Rex swagger and Mascis’ hard-wired guitar leads servicing lurid tales of sex, drugs and vampires. The members of Sweet Apple will be guest editing all week. Read our Q&A with Petkovic.

Petkovic: Some people wear any old animal on their shirt. With me, it’s only a Penguin. I have so much clothes by Original Penguin that I’m a little embarrassed by it all. If penguins ever go extinct, my closet can re-populate the earth. I have four cardigans, 10 sweater vests, seven pants, four blazers, five dress shirts and 10 short-sleeved “Earls.” Why so many? It’s become an obsession; I can’t explain it any other way. But I can explain what it is about Penguin that first caught my eye. The clothes have a timeless appeal, even if very different types have embraced them over the years. The brand started in 1955, by a Minneapolis manufacturer called Munsingwear. Bing Crosby and Arnold Palmer made Penguin fashionable on golf courses. Mods embraced them a decade later. For years, the Penguin brand was relegated to the shelves of thrift stores, until it was revived in 2003. Part of the reason for the revival is the trim fit, which set Penguin apart from its baggy, saggy competitors. Then there are the vibrant colors of the Earl shirts, which is why I have 10, all different colors. But it’s the patterns of the pants that really stick out. They look like something out of some ’50s golfing romp with Bob Hope: plaids, checkers, stripes. The only problem—for me at least—is I can’t golf. So all too often I left looking at them hanging in the closet. And it makes me feel like a zookeeper.

One reply on “Sweet Apple’s John Petkovic Remembers: Original Penguin”

You should’ve featured a picture of Bing Crosby, who was far cooler than these kids could ever hope to be.

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